Saturday, March 18, 2006


[ Pic Courtesy Sify]

In my review of Arindhum Ariyaamalum, director Vishnuvardhan's much-better follow-up to Kurumbu, I said "If he follows this trajectory, his next film will be something to look forward to". Fortunately, he has followed the trajectory in Pattiyal, his third film. Shifting gears from the light, commercial setting he seemed comfortable in, he gives us in this film a realistic, uncompromising look at Chennai underworld.

Pattiyal presents a side of Chennai that is rarely seen or even heard about. This is not a world where the employers are addressed as 'boss', the rowdies roam around in Tata Sumos and the biggest rowdy walks around in slo-mo with lesser rowdies behind him. The film presents an underworld that is more a loose network rather than an organized group. There are no permanent masters or servants. Loyalties are ever-shifting and its just money that decides those loyalties. In this fascinating environment, the director focuses on two people who are at the bottom of the food chain.

Kosi(Arya) and Selvam(Bharath) are orphans who have been the best of friends since childhood. They are contract killers for whom the targets are provided by Sami(Cochin Hanifa). Beyond Sami, they know nothing about who ordered those killings. Saroja(Padmapriya), who lives in the same area, pursues Kosi inspite of his complete lack of interest in her. Meanwhile Selvam develops a liking for Sandhya(Pooja), who works at a pharmacy. But their professions ensure that the two of them cannot lead normal lives.

The setting of Pattiyal is bleak - as would be expected of a film whose leads eke out their living by being contract killers. But Vishnuvardhan makes it entertaining too without much damaging the underlying realism. A big reason for this is the way he handles the romances. Arya's curt comebacks to Padmapriya's advances are very funny and make most of their scenes together entertaining. The romance between Bharath and Pooja is abrupt and too quick but makes up for it with its sweetness with Pooja's friend contributing to the laughs.

But its not just the romances that make us smile. The script throughout the film sparkles with several witty one-liners, observations, comments and retorts that find their mark because they are delivered in a very matter-of-fact manner. Many of the dialogs, like the comparison between a refrigerator and a gun and the confusion generated by Hanifa's name, would make even 'Crazy' Mohan proud.

The film lags just a little bit in the second half. Though things keep moving, some of the plot developments, especially on Arya's side, get a little clichéd. But luckily it picks up once again, aided by the unpredictability in the plot and suspense about how things are going to turn out. And the movie closes on a wonderful scene that illustrates the vicious circle of life.

Vishnuvardhan has a strong sense of style. His way of picturization and choice of locations, combined with Yuvan Shankar Raja's high-energy background score, lend a certain gloss to the film. The film's characters might be people from a lower class but the film itself is high-class. Some segments in particular, like the sequence where Arya and Bharath acquaint themselves with a newly-acquired handgun and a subsequent chase sequence, are exhilaratingly picturized.

Bharath scoops up the acting honors with a finely-tuned performance. He has a very expressive face and it comes in handy since his role demands that he speak a lot with his eyes and body language. Arya deserves courage for accepting this role at a time when he is talked about as the next pin-up boy in Tamil cinema. He looks unkempt, is perennially drunk and keeps Padmapriya at arm's length. He is good in the role but looks a little rough around the edges sometimes. Padmapriya's character is the opposite of her quiet, homely role in Thavamaai Thavamirundhu but she carries it off very well. Her dress for Namma Kaattula... isn't very complimentary to her figure though. Pooja looks cute as always and impresses when she is required to emote too.

Yuvan delivers a blockbuster soundtrack that, more importantly, gets the respect it deserves. Poga Poga... is the pick of the lot with the casual way it is picturized. Dei Namma... begs us to stand up and join Bharath and Arya as they shake their legs enthusiastically. Kannai Vittu... and Edhedho... are both catchy melodies though the circumstances are different. Stunt sequences match the realism of the rest of the movie and rarely feel like they are choreographed.


At 10:36 PM, Blogger Kaps said...

Looks like a must watch. Yuvan has been scoring well in recent times and his partnership with Vishnuvardhan makes it another exciting combo like Selva-YSR and Amir-YSR.

At 12:16 AM, Blogger Ram C said...

Seems this interesting combination has already taken a good opening in CBO... Good that Chennai film industry is churning out good movies from time to time.

At 12:18 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

kaps, yep i would defly rate this a must-watch.

ramc, after a bad year so far, we finally seem to be getting some good ones :)

At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like if last year was the year of the schizophrenic protagonist, this year seems to be the gansgter year with Pattiyal, Pudhupettai and a couple other movies with same theme. How come our directors all get struck by the same theme at the same time? Like a sudden common brain wave. Puzzling.

At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

its a rip off from a awardwinning movie "bangkok dangerous"..
chek that out..

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the description of pattiyal's settings reminded me of "Shiva," the RGV film from the late 80s *ing Nag, Amala and Raghuvaran...i thot it was a great movie that was stylish, gritty and yet, very entertaining...

bb, looks like pooja is becoming your "setup"...jothika-vukku throgam panaathenge;)

neways, Friday i remember reading a post on Kavya's reading skills...why's that not up now?

At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

arya always looks unkempt (AA, KK, etc) and it's WHY he is a pinup! he's a bit beady-eyed and if he were scrubbed down, he'd be somewhat ordinary, but scruffed up with a 3-day beard, he has the sort of charm that makes sisters-in-law enact mtv videos.

At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

plot summary of bangkok dangerous from imdb...

The story is of a deaf-mute hitman and his partner who are based in Bangkok. He is friends with his partner's girlfriend who is a stripper at a local club. They go about their assassination business as usual as the boss climbs the underworld ladder and forms new alliances. Flashbacks explain how he got to this point in his life.

He forms a relationship with a young woman from the pharmacy who is caring and innocent. The hunts continue as treachery begins. A big name hit makes him realize that good people are hurt by his actions. The first rule of assassination closes in on him as he strikes revenge.

ada pongappa....

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

vijay, very true. we can probably come up with a 'tamil cinema calendar' similar to the chinese calendar with each year being a 'year of the ...'. i can think of atleast 4 years where the label is real easy :)

anon, just read the synopsis for BD. and yes, it does look like 'pattiyal' is a rip-off, right down to one of the heroines working at a pharmacy!! well i still think 'pattiyal' is a very good tamil movie but my respect for vishnuvardhan just went down a bit.

ram, good to have u back! i was thinking of a good comparison for the kind of movie 'pattiyal' is. i think 'shiva' would be a good one. RGV's style was a major inspiration for vishnuvardhan i'm sure...

blogger had a big problem on thur. night and mine was one of the blogs that was affected. it looks like for some time on friday, when they were in the middle of fixing it, that post showed up though it was a draft and not a post. i thot it wasn't online for a long time but looks like atleast a few people caught it. will be posting it again this week...

anon, my wife says the same thing about ajith and how he looked his best in movies like 'amarkkalam' with the 3-day stubble. so i do understand arya's appeal in movies like AA and KK. but here i thot he was really unkempt with that hair, his dressing, his language, his drinking, etc. i guess i'd be curious to c if any women found him pin-up material in 'pattiyal' :)

btw, that part about 'sisters-in-law enact mtv videos' was hilarious :)

At 4:12 AM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

Eventhough the film has lot of plus-es, as you too have minus-es..

* As you said, the costume of Padmapriya in Namma Kaatula song..I am not able to digest her in that role..
* And dont have nething to attract all level of peoples..Ladies will find tough at their seats while watching
* No single uniformed cop in entire film..Director may thot dont want to carry that episode to in film..
* And the climax..Hope you also remembered Pithamagan while watching it..The characterization of Arya somewhat similar to Sura and Bharath to Vikram..Here also he is dump and deaf where there Vikram will not speak..and expresses everything with body..
* And the end point..I have to accept that this is real..But same as Indian, where Thaththa Kamal esacaped and there till the bribary ends and Anniyan, where Vikram will kill that electrician

But I like the song sung by Illayaraja..But there was no words of that in your review..You will notify soon..where the song will be on top like AA's Theeppidikka

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Me too said...

2006 has started to look-up, eh? "Pattaiya kelapiruchu pola" like you wished!

With all the blogger problem & stuff and with same pictures for both preview and revies of 'Pattiyal', it took me a while to realise that this is a new post!

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and on the topic of 'shiva', the first promo is up for ramu’s new 'shiva' - SHIVA

ilaiyaraaja will be doing the music again!


At 9:53 PM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

Me too,
Balaji is using same pictures for preview and review. You can notice the same for Aaru too

At 11:19 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

karthik, actually my wife and 2 friends she went with loved the film. so can't say it has nothing for the ladies :)

and i too thot about the lack of policemen when seeing the movie. forgot to mention it in the review.

me too, true. after a lacklustre, the year seems to be looking up :)

At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji, great review as usual:)

I'll have to agree with your wife, its a misconception that (all) women only enjoy weepy-sobby sentimental stuff - though this movie certainly had its share of these too (which were realisitically portrayed & not dwelt on for too long). I found myself wiping my eyes at atleast 1 or 2 places (credit goes to the director for making us sympathize with the protagonists inspite of their clinical way of killing their targets - washing/wiping the knife afterwards & all).

Agree with you on PP, total contrast from TT, yet seemed perfect as Saroja, portraying all the naivete, exuberance & mischieviousness of a teenage/young girl...

And ur comment on the closing scene is spot on! Very apt ending, ironical in that their way of life becomes the way of their end too & that life goes on unchanged with the only difference being the players...

At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, looks like most of us like the movie. I put up a review on my new blog as well.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger nattamai, India said...


Nice review. Watched it and liked it but shocked to know that it is a copy of BD, very disappointed. I hope VV comes out of his shell and accepts it if it is indeed a copy. Atleast in future he should come up with original story / screenplay!

At 11:45 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

deepa, what u said is pretty much what my wife said too. as long as things move at a fast pace and don't get ridiculously cinematic, she enjoys the film too. and she said she teared up @ a couple of places too...

and i really wanted to say more on the closing scenes but didn't since they would've been spoilers :)

bnb, welcome. and yes, there's very little not to like about 'pattiyal' :)

nattamai, thanx. i was really disappointed too to learn from anon that 'pattiyal' was a rip-off...

At 1:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops! sorry abt that Balaji...
guess i got carried away by the poeticness (if there is such a word) of the climax & also new at this commenting thing...

will be careful in future..

at some point though, it might be good to open up discussions on movie endings as well, i'm sure some of those can be very interesting - this wud be good for those movies that have a different end than the usual cinematic ones... maybe a seperate thread just for ppl who've already watched

and good to know i was not alone abt those senti scenes :)

At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

am wondering if u shd delete that comment Balaji, i dont want to ruin the experience for ppl who might not have already watched the movie...

i'm realising the onus of reviewing with no spoilers yet mentioning all the salient points on u, so dont want to take away from any of this :)

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

deepa, the recent post 'last scene standing' was done exactly for the reasons u mention - since movie endings can be very interesting. i actually have 1 movie ending that i think is the most interesting and confusing in recent times. but been awhile since i saw the film. will probably write about it after i see it again :)

and i would say thats the toughest part of reviewing for me - saying what i want to say without revealing too much about what actually goes on. always trying to improve on this by talking the bare minimum about the story :)

At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep, that was a good post - i'd only watched 2 of the movies u'd written abt (Sethu & KM & only remember abt Sethu well) definitely a very different ending & very heartbreaking as well...

a little disappointing tho that all 3 of Bala's movies have endings along similar lines so much so they are not unique among themselves. similarly for a lot of KB's movies that i've watched...

so i guess non-cinematic endings get predictable as well & its a real challenge for directors to surprise us constantly :)

btw, which one r u talking abt that caught u unaware recently?

and i'll say this again assuming u're not tired of hearing it :) u're reviews r really good & well appreciated!

At 11:54 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

deepa, i would rate 'chithiram pesudhadi' as 1 of the best climaxes i've seen in recent times. but the movie i was talking about is a few yrs old.

and nope, never get tired of hearing that :)

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At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice review Balaji! I really liked this movie, however no review of PATTIYAL can be complete without a mention of RGV's SATYA which the movie is so clearly inspired from

My review below.


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